Works starts at future site of Highway 544 fire house; HGTC area - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Works starts at future site of Highway 544 fire house; HGTC area will not lose coverage rates

(Source: WMBF News) (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - After years of planning, work is underway on a new fire station in Horry County. That station is along Highway 544.

The reason for the move is to improve the Insurance Service Office ratings, or ISO, for people living in this area.  A few years ago, improved GPS technology showed a lot of people living just down the highway in Carolina Lakes were right outside the five-mile driving limit from a fire house, and a 5 ISO rating.

That drove the ISO up to 10 in parts of Horry County, and insurance bills quadrupled for some homeowners.  Now, moving University Fire Station, also known as Station 23, from its current home near Horry Georgetown Tech will improve that ISO. 

Construction on the new station started this week. Right now, you can't see much progress on the outside because contractors immediately found asbestos in the old home on the property.  Horry County councilman Johnny Vaught said treatment for that should take about 10 days.  The home will be retested before demolition.  Lower insurance rates are coming soon despite the setback.

The Horry County Fire Rescue spokesman says the ISO review happened about two months ago.  So you should expect your new rating in the fall.  The review included improvements made from a county fire tax.

"There's millage dedicated to fire and fire prevention and fire equipment...and personnel and all.  So we've grown the fire department quite a bit since then.  So we got that review done...and that review should reflect in homeowner's fire insurance rates, shortly.  Because this fire station was figured in to that review," Councilman Vaught said.

The move can help out response times by getting away from all that traffic by Coastal Carolina and HGTC.  The two acres of land is between the BB&T and the antique mall along 544.  Councilman Vaught said it's perfect for the 7,500 square foot, 3 bay fire station.

The County bought the land for $366,000 and the total county budget for the project is $1.2 million. 

Councilman Vaught said many people ask him if the move will affect those living by the current University fire station near HGTC.  He said the exact opposite will happen.

"A lot of people have asked me that question.  They say, 'Well you're moving it down Highway 544 so going to lose coverage?'  But there's not going to be loss in coverage.  Between the city and the county, we'll still have the same coverage.  Except we'll increase coverage...now we'll have coverage almost all the way through to 31."

The tentative timeline for the project shows a finish date of July 17, 2017.  Bids for the project will be opened August 16 of this year.  A bid will be chosen October 16 and construction should start in November.

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